The much-anticipated II from Billy Talent comes and goes like a passing breeze. Not that it sounds peaceful, or quiet for that matter. No, this description mainly applies to the album’s ability to pass by without leaving much of an impact. While the production is top notch on this loud and powerful nü punk 50 minute marathon, the talent apparent (pun intended), the album itself is less than novel.
If the young punk rock bucks in Billy Talent are supposed to sound fresh and new to listeners, then an obvious expectation of us would be that their albums be packed with fresh hooks, unique takes on old riffs, full of power and fury. Sadly, what is delivered is everything but. Listening through II I was reminded more of other, less tangibly referential bands, in a vague, yet not-so-distant way, like I had heard this album before in another time. Unfortunately, the album failed to grab me as a listener.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that II is a bad album per se, but the core problem is that each song flows into the other without much differential. Usually I’d praise a band’s ability to seamlessly unite an album, but here the problem is that most of these songs sound too similar to one another. When reviewing this album, I failed to notice any changes between songs—I just thought a very long solo was drowning on forever.
There are, however, some praise-worthy sides to II. The tracks, “Fallen Leaves” and “Perfect World” are two ass-kicking standouts that got buried in between the others. And unlike the gamut of punk bands with very little ability to perform musically, much less write their own music, Billy Talent does in spades. The pun of having talent in their name should not be taken lightly, as these are extremely talented musicians who made a few wrong turns.
To close, I’m giving this a cautious recommendation for the fans of their earlier stuff, who will probably enjoy this release just as much. Newcomers to Billy Talent, be warned—listen to the older material first to ease you into the new release. I foresee that in another year or two, the experience of this album and the relentless touring will shape Billy Talent’s III into an excellent album.
NOFX – Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing
Box Car Racer – Box Car Racer
Less Than Jake – In With The Out Crowd